An important post-Brexit initiative of the Conservative government was the announcement in 2021 of eight new ‘freeports’ across England, of which Plymouth/South Devon were one.
The establishment of the Freeport has proceeded rapidly. The local vision reframes the national agenda, with a focus on sustainable development in the marine economy and the defence/space sectors, in a way that is genuinely innovative but may also be challenging.
Notwithstanding the undoubted opportunities, and the extensive planning of the local authorities to ensure broader social and environmental benefits, there are risks. The political context for freeports is still volatile, economic displacement is still a concern and the economic crisis may put pressure on some of the social and environmental principles (while the public image of freeports is not unproblematic).
This workshop will cover the following.
Session 1: What do we know about the the UK freeports
Dr Peter Holmes and Guillermo Larbalastier from the Trade Policy Observatory on the trade implications of the new freeports and Dr Catherine Barnard (Cambridge) on the evolving UK policy; Drs Holden and Harmer on the political and socio-economic context of the Plymouth/Devon Freeport (summary of their recent research) followed by a Q&A/discussion.
Session 2: Opportunities and risks for business, government and society
This session will explore and encourage participants to reflect on the opportunities, challenges and potential risks of the Freeport. Facilitated group discussions will explore different scenarios and perspectives.
- An understanding of the evolving national policy
- Analytical tools to understand the political and social dynamics in the South West
- Better knowledge of their own organisation’s research and learning needs
- A new perspective on freeports and exposure to social science experts
- Optional involvement in an ongoing knowledge network on freeports
The event is lead by Dr Patrick Holden
, Associate Professor Politics and International Relations, and Dr Nichola Harmer
, Lecturer in Human Geography from the University of Plymouth.
- Dr Catherine Barnard, Professor of European and Employment Law, University of Cambridge, and author of landmark report of Freeports – UK in a Changing Europe
- Dr Peter Holmes Emeritus Reader (Economics) University of Sussex and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory
- Guillermo Larbalestier, Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory
The event is primarily aimed at professionals with relevant roles (and will be of particular interest to individuals with leading/strategic roles) in local government, business and civil society. Please arrive for light refreshments from 13:15, ready for a 13:30 start.